Covid staffing issues have led to the prolonged closure of five Glasgow libraries

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Covid staffing issues have led to the prolonged closure of five Glasgow libraries - with protesters furious they have been shut since the start of the pandemic.

The city's Maryhill, Whiteinch, Couper Institute and Gallery of Modern Art libraries are still closed, and Barmulloch Library is being used as a vaccination centre.

In November last year, the Scottish Government provided cash to reopen libraries but staffing issues arising from the latest spread of covid could lead to a further delay.

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Glasgow Life said when it received the cash pledge it would open the libraries by the end of January.

But there is no specific date, with bosses claiming they are experiencing increased staff absence due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty ImagesPhoto by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images
Photo by Jeff J Mitchell/Getty Images | Getty Images

The closed libraries have been the focal point for protests and read-ins staged outside on Saturday mornings to call for the facilities to be reopened.

Last week City Treasurer, Richard Bell, said the cash was available to reopen the libraries and once they are, the council intended them to remain open.

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But he said there is a question mark over whether Glasgow Life could be able to reopen all other venues as income has been severely affected by the pandemic.

A spokesman for Glasgow Life said: "As confirmed in November 2021, five more community libraries will reopen to the public early this year, thanks to funding from the Scottish Government, which is being administered by the Scottish Library and Information Council.

"It remains our intention to reopen Couper Institute Library, Library at GoMA, Maryhill Library and Whiteinch Library by the end of January.

"However, like all sectors, we are experiencing increased staff absence due to the rapid spread of the Omicron variant.

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"As it has been throughout the pandemic, the health and wellbeing of our staff and the public remains our priority, and our reopening plans are contingent on staff availability and ensuring we can offer our services safely, while continuing to follow the Scottish Government's ongoing guidance.

"Barmulloch Library is still being used as a vaccination centre and we will work to make the adaptations required to reopen the library in early February.

"We will continue to share our latest updates and further reopening details for all five libraries through our website and social media channels, and we want to thank our visitors for their patience and understanding as we navigate the next few weeks."

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